Having a budget wedding doesn’t have to mean you have to cut down on the style. But you probably will have to call on friends and family, or use a bit more imagination. Here are some tips on how to have your dream wedding for less:
How to have your dream wedding for less
1. Set a budget
Budgets aren’t sexy at the best of times, never mind when you’re about to get married. But neither is starting married life with a mountain of debt. Lots of wedding sites have a wedding budget planner.
SAVVY TIP: If you need an extra incentive to set a budget, think about how you’d feel if you came back from your honeymoon to a pile of credit card bills you can’t pay. A budget is just a framework. It can be as little or as much as you can afford. The key is to know what that number is.
2. Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into spending more
Some of those involved in the wedding industry are adept at using psychological tricks to get you to increase your budget. You don’t have to spend more because it’s going to be the ‘happiest day of your life’, and you’re not being mean if you limit your spending.
SAVVY TIP: Watch out for ‘wedding inflation’. A few years ago, I did a report for TV about the cost of weddings – and doing the research was fascinating. We were trying to establish whether – as was suspected – companies raised their prices as soon as the word ‘wedding’ was mentioned.
We rang several hotels, mobile discos, cake makers, photographers and limousine companies; giving them two identical scenarios, except that one was a wedding, the other a massive 60th birthday party. Guess what? The quotes for the wedding were higher in almost every case; sometimes 30% higher.
3. Don’t invite more than you want to
One of the easiest ways to spend more than you plan to is to invite more people than you can afford. The fact is that you’ll have to draw the line somewhere and someone is bound to feel left out. You can set the rules – whether it’s ‘no children’, ‘no-one we’ve not met’ or ‘no partners unless you live with them’. You won’t be able to invite everyone, so don’t feel guilty about drawing the line.
SAVVY TIP: Decide between you how you’re going to limit the number of guests. If you increase the guest list later on (by more than one or two) agree that you’ll make cutbacks somewhere else.
4. Prioritise – and work out where you can save
You may decide to spend on some things (such as the food and the photographer) and cut back on others. Here are some suggestions:
Wedding favours. I can honestly say that out of all the weddings I’ve been to, the wedding favours that made the biggest impact were handmade and cost next-to-nothing.
Drinks. I’m a big fan of champagne, but you can either limit it to the toast or substitute good quality French sparkling wine, cava or prosecco.
Wedding cake. Get a relative to make the cake and another to ice it. Otherwise make or buy an alternative style of cake. Ask yourself, do you really want three tiers of fruit cake? Thought not!
SAVVY TIP: You can buy a plain white cake and get the florist to decorate it, if you’re using a florist. Or, you can decorate it with ribbons and sugar flowers (if you have a friend who likes baking she or he may be happy to do this for you).
Flowers. Grow your own (or get a green-fingered friend to do it for you) to give your bouquet extra meaning. Scale down the flowers or go for ones that are in season.
A friend of mine did her own flowers and spent £130 for ten table decorations, buttonholes and three bouquets (and I was at her wedding and the flowers were lovely).
Dress. Buy it from a charity shop if you want to be a real frugalista. You think I’m joking? Oxfam has a number of bridal shops or you can buy dresses from its online store. Most dresses have either been used in fashion shows or for display purposes and only a few are second-hand. Otherwise try eBay or high street shops like Monsoon, Phase Eight or Debenhams.
SAVVY TIP: This is a tip from a friend Hilary, via Facebook: If you’re buying a dress at a wedding dress shop, tell them your budget and make sure they don’t show you anything that’s more expensive. Also, ask them not to tell you the prices until you’ve tried them all on!
5. Haggle/negotiate a better deal
Don’t be afraid to haggle to get a better deal. Car hire companies should do wedding cars by the hour. Another friend of mine saved money by hiring a beautiful car for the journey to the wedding venue and a few photos afterwards. It was a third of the cost of having the car for half a day.
The venue may not negotiate on price but may offer extras (especially if you’re getting married out of season or on a weekday).
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